28 June 2022
The population of England and Wales has increased by more than 3.5 million in the 10 years leading up to Census 2021. Using the first results from this census, we look at which places have seen the biggest increases and decreases, which areas had the largest growth in different age groups, and how local authority areas like Exeter compare with others.
The English region with the largest population increase was the East of England, which grew by around 8.3% or 488,000 more residents. The English region with the smallest increase was the North East, growing by 1.9% or around 50,000 people. In Wales, the population grew by 1.4% or 44,000 people.
A map shows the English regions and Wales.
In Exeter, the population size has increased by 11.1%, from around 117,800 in 2011 to 130,800 in 2021. This is higher than the overall increase for England (6.6%), where the population grew by nearly 3.5 million to 56,489,800.
A map of local authority areas in England is coloured to indicate the percentage change in population of each area. The data used in this article are available to download at the end.
Nearby areas like East Devon and Teignbridge have seen their populations increase by around 13.8% and 8.5%, respectively, while others such as Mid Devon saw an increase of 6.5% and Torbay saw smaller growth (6.4%).
The map then zooms to centre on Exeter and show neighbouring areas.
The largest population increases in the South West have been seen in Tewkesbury and East Devon, where the populations have grown by 15.8% and 13.8%, respectively.
The map zooms out to show the percentage change in population size in all local authority areas in the South West
At the other end of the scale, the Isles of Scilly have seen a fall of 4.7%.
With 2021 figures rounded to the nearest 100, measures of change over time for areas with small populations, such as the Isles of Scilly, may be less robust than larger local authority areas.
The local authority areas displayed on the map change form and position to create a bar chart that orders selected areas of the South West by percentage change in total population.
At 11.1%, Exeter's population increase is higher than the increase for the South West (7.8%).
Exeter is highlighted on the bar chart along with other local authority areas in the South West.
Tower Hamlets saw the largest percentage growth in population in England, increasing 22.1% between 2011 and 2021. Dartford was second, increasing 20.0%.
Every local authority area of England is shown as a dot on a chart, with the legend running from the largest percentage decrease to the highest percentage increase in population. Exeter is highlighted.
Some local authority areas have seen their populations decline. Kensington and Chelsea had an estimated population of 143,400 in 2021, which was around 15,200 fewer than in 2011 and a decrease of 9.6%.
The chart continues to show all areas of England as dots, ordered by the percentage change in total population, with the largest decreases towards the left and the largest increases towards the right.
The total population of local authority areas varies a lot, from Birmingham with around 1,144,900 people to the Isles of Scilly with around 2,100 people. The sizes of these circles are proportionate to the size of the population in each local authority area.
The chart changes into circles located at the centre of each local authority area on a map. The area of each circle indicates the total population.
As of 2021, Exeter is the fourth most densely populated of the South West's 30 local authority areas, with around 20 people living on each football pitch-sized area of land.
A drawing of a football pitch is displayed. The number of people on the pitch, or the number of pitches for one person, changes as described in the text content.
Tower Hamlets in London has become the most densely populated local authority area in England (overtaking Islington) with the equivalent of around 112 people per pitch.
At the other end of the population density scale for England, the amount of land in Eden in Cumbria works out at around five pitches per resident.
This population pyramid shows the population of males and females in each five-year age group at the time of the 2011 Census.
The largest age group in the South West back then was those aged 45 to 49 years.
A population pyramid is displayed. It shows males and females in each age group as a percentage of the total population for Exeter in 2011. The age group with the largest number of people is highlighted.
More recently, in 2021, the largest age group in the South West was those aged 55 to 59 years.
A population pyramid is displayed. It shows the number males and females in each age group as a percentage of the total population for the South West in 2021. The age group with the largest number of people is highlighted.
In England, the largest age group in 2021 was people aged 30 to 34 years.
The population pyramid changes to show the number of males and females in each age group as a percentage of the total population in England. The age group with the largest number of people is highlighted.
Overall, in England, there has been an increase of 20.1% in people aged 65 years and over, an increase of 3.6% in people aged 15 to 64 years, and an increase of 5.0% in children aged under 15 years.
The population pyramid turns into a horizontal bar chart, with bars representing the percentage change in the number of people of any sex in each five-year age group in England.
This is how Exeter compares. There has been an increase of 19.3% in people aged 65 years and over, an increase of 11.1% in people aged 15 to 64 years, and an increase of 3.3% in children aged under 15 years.
The horizontal bar chart now shows the percentage change in the number of people of any sex in each five-year age group in Exeter.
The places that have seen the largest increases in the population aged 65 years and over are Milton Keynes in the South East, which has seen 43.6% growth, and Harborough in the East Midlands (38.5%).
A map of England appears, highlighting the areas with the largest increases in people aged 65 years and over.
The places that have seen the largest increases in the population aged under 15 years are Dartford in Kent, where the size of this age group increased by 31.8% between 2011 and 2021, and Peterborough in the East of England (23.8%).
The map now highlights the areas with the largest increases in children aged under 15 years.
The places that have seen the largest percentage decrease in the number of children aged under 15 years are Westminster (19.4%) and Kensington and Chelsea (17.8%) in London and Richmondshire in Yorkshire (12.3%).
The map now highlights the areas with the largest decreases in children aged under 15 years.
Population change in certain areas may reflect how the coronavirus
(COVID-19) pandemic affected people's choice of usual residence on Census
Day, for example, students and in some urban areas.
These changes might have been temporary for some and more long-lasting for others.
First results from Census 2021 are rounded to the nearest 100 so may not add exactly.
Changes over time have been calculated with rounded estimates for Census 2021 and unrounded estimates from the 2011 Census.
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